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ERIC Number: EJ923828
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 33
ISSN: ISSN-0729-4360
Scaffolding Critical Thinking in the Zone of Proximal Development
Wass, Rob; Harland, Tony; Mercer, Alison
Higher Education Research and Development, v30 n3 p317-328 2011
This paper explores student experiences of learning to think critically. Twenty-six zoology undergraduates took part in the study for three years of their degree at the University of Otago, New Zealand. Vygotsky's developmental model of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) provided a framework as we examined how critical thinking was developed. There was very little evidence of critical thinking at first year as students experienced a high-level of material scaffold in the form of course documents, textbooks, problem solving-exercises and discussions that were primarily aimed at the acquisition of factual knowledge. In large classes students were anonymous to lecturers and they relied on each other for support. In years 2 and 3, learning to do research became the main scaffold for critical thinking and students gradually changed their views about the nature of knowledge. Verbal scaffolding and conversation with lecturers and peers allowed students to extend their ZPD for critical thinking. They began to accept responsibility for their own and their peers' learning as they practiced being a zoology researcher. These findings are discussed in relation to two approaches to scaffolding in the ZPD and it is suggested that research should be an integral part of the first year if critical thinking remains a key aim for higher education. (Contains 1 table and 2 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New Zealand